Self-enhancement and belief perseverance

Corey L. Guenther, Mark D. Alicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Belief perseverance-the tendency to make use of invalidated information-is one of social psychology's most reliable phenomena. Virtually all of the explanations proffered for the effect, as well as the conditions that delimit it, involve the way people think about or explain the discredited feedback. But it seems reasonable to assume that the importance of the feedback for the actor's self-image would also influence the tendency to persevere on invalidated feedback. From a self-enhancement perspective, one might ask: Why would people persist in negative self-beliefs, especially when the basis for those beliefs has been discredited? In the present study, actors and observers completed a word-identification task and were given bogus success or failure feedback. After success feedback was discredited, actors and observers persevered equally in beliefs about the actor's abilities. However, following invalidation of failure feedback, actors provided significantly higher performance evaluations than observers, thus exhibiting less perseverance on the negative feedback. These results suggest that the motivation to maintain a relatively favorable self-image may attenuate perseverance when discredited feedback threatens an important aspect of the self-concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-712
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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